Online magazine about PCB design and manufacturing
A self-proclaimed “visionary” does not always understand the true meaning of partnership.
In a perfect world, there would be truth in advertising.
It would be breathtaking to hear a politician say:
“My statements yesterday regarding voter ignorance on current issues have not been taken out of context. I meant every word I said, down to the last comma, semicolon, and exclamation mark, and I respect them. Many of you don’t even know what a semicolon is, let alone how to use it. Moreover, harnessing this gift of voter ignorance has propelled my political career and improved my electoral viability. The systems are meant for gaming, and I’m enjoying the time my schooling and ambition put in for me. Here in the land where preparation meets opportunity, my eyes have seen the glory. God bless America!”
Or to hear a certain classism laid bare with this straightforward preschool flyer:
“Vanilla Bean Curd Country Daycare is obsessed with our mission to empower little ones to succeed in life, especially as they enroll and grow into bigs with influence. Luckily for you, the aspiring parent of a young Chancer, there’s us. One must start early in the relentless pursuit, cultivation, and maintenance of privilege through an awareness and use of the lowest instincts for survival and mobility. We are unabashedly proud to be the proverbial first cobblestone on this Machiavellian road. Right Daycare spawns Right Preschool spawns Right Kindergarten spawns Right Elementary School spawns Right Prep School spawns Right Ivy League School spawns relationships, notoriety, and money to support multiple pairings, families, and schooling for children from these sources. Repeat the process with new children. (See our rankings.) Get real before you get run over. It’s a competitive world, and relationships matter more than ever. Do them here. Skip the tail. You are with Our Kind. Get the money flowing. What would it be? Winner or loser? A life is coming. With us, your little darlings have ‘high’ and ‘worth’, as in ‘High Net Worth’, etched on their skulls like QR codes. You will thank us with your donations.
It’s not a perfect world. Calendars like the ones shown above remain hidden. For a reason. We are left to our own devices to determine our motives.
So it is with the partnership. The term has become elastic. Seller beware.
He stopped one fine day in a Tesla. (It’s still a man.) The indicative license plate proclaimed M3MYS3LF&1. Sic transit gloria mundi. So was his lack of spatial reasoning: the vanity-clad rolling statement was parked at a 30° angle from parallel. Clothing to match: no ties. No socks. No obvious bleaching of her outfit. Shabby chic. Non-compliance as compliance. Visionaries want to make a statement, and trivia like rules are for little people. So he told us, without prompting or a shred of shame, with that typical sub-continental bluster of those who write code, hit the jackpot once, and thus think they know it all and deserve to be in the elite circles. They want to share their enlightenment. They make their own rules. So, people need to be reminded of their place in the Silicon Valley caste system, to hell with the pretensions of egalitarianism. Be thankful that Greatness has arrived to grant you time with Its Presence. Keep your biases to yourself. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll participate in the IPO.
He had a great idea. (Of course he did). He needed help fine-tuning his process. Things didn’t quite go together. Parts were cracking or breaking prematurely during use and still under warranty. It was embarrassing. Certainly not worthy of a visionary. The nominal data of the design software did not correspond to the actual data of the part. The heatmaps were glowing red, not a good color. His additive manufacturing process was subtracting from his cash flow at an unforeseen rate, and he needed to know why. The VCs frowned and demanded answers. Where did the flaws come from? What was their extent? To get answers to these mysteries, he needed his coins scanned. Colleagues told us. So, he came to park at an off-putting angle in front of our building. He needed help.
It’s us: we are “the help”.
We had a CT scanner. He did not do it. His problem was our solution. Thus, free trade was born. Naturally, he wanted a partnership, but first he had to dazzle.
He waved with warm, insinuating buzzwords, or so he thought. Series A, B, C and D funding rounds. Stanford Pedigree. A board of trustees (thankfully missing some of the same shrewd character judges who recognized Elizabeth Holmes’ potential). Tons of pending orders. Huge upside potential. To infinity. The analogy with the fire hose is correct: overwhelm the prey with details. Do not allow them to raise a doubt or a skeptical question. Never stop talking. Let them bask in the glow. Control the subject and drive the moving train. Cultivate greed and envy.
We attended a condescending PowerPoint on his future iconic company and its revolutionary products, designed to speed up the flow of fluids downhill. (Compared to what?) He is looking for reliable and long-lasting partners who can help him improve his product and bring it to market more quickly. (This stuff still flows.) Are we ambitious, like-minded, excited to join?
What does “join” mean? Does it come with a number assigned to it, with multiple zeros at the end?
It may be a function of age, growing irascibility, and a heightened awareness of his limited time on the planet, but these presentations, in their faux boosterism, blend together. All show. They are smooth. Slick like in B*O*R*I*N*G. Enduring them means you won’t get back the hours spent listening to them. On slide 42, we want to stand up and shout, “What do you want? A common tactic is to flood the recipient with a staggering torrent of information, hoping it will make the prey foolish, or at least more flexible, when negotiations begin.
That’s why he sees us as “the helper”.
This is often a revealing moment in the world of test engineering and failure analysis. The pattern of customer responses to details betrays technical ignorance. As in “We were hoping you could design a test plan for us” or “We weren’t sure which x-ray system approach best suited our needs. We were hoping you could draft an inspection strategy that we would use for future SOWs. »
You know, the kind good enough to go anywhere to any competitor to get a cheaper quote, otherwise known as Free Engineering. Often, like a good litigator, the client knows the answer to his question when he asks it. It only fishes out commitment. How far will it open? What will a partnership consist of?
But I digress. Slide 42 was the midpoint. The financial pitch had not yet come.
Often, we attempt to disarm suspicious or scheming customers with brutal honesty. For many customers, it’s an invigorating break from their daily lives to hear us tell them that we have no experience with their business and no idea what a good part or system means to us. But we are ready to learn. We are circuit board people who operate a large CT scan machine. Inevitably, engineers find it advantageous to make requests to digitize items that are not printed circuit boards. Among these are parts made by additive manufacturing, some with exotic materials of varying thicknesses and densities. Some will admit x-rays; some won’t.
This is where honesty comes in. If it is an unknown application, manufacturing technique, material, composite or coating, we sometimes admit to the customer that it is new (to us). We are ready to learn, and for that we make a deal. We offer to attempt some test images to see if we can capture the view the client wants, which is often vague due to a lack of a statement of work or both feigned and real technical ignorance – or the two ! (See above.) These test images are usually offered for free, as long as the customer isn’t a jerk. If we are successful with these images, great. We can then discuss a mutually agreeable program and determine the cost together with the project engineers. If we don’t, then, as the saying goes, no harm, no fault. We tried, and it cost the customer nothing. No risk for them. To a next project.
Historically, this approach has worked well. This works great with engineers from large companies who often have labs with our own capabilities and more, but lack the speed, flexibility and responsiveness we offer. A two-day turnaround is often a compelling alternative to the six or eight-week turnaround using internal company resources, particularly if you don’t need a glossy report and rely on images to tell the story, especially in time-wasting situations. The emergency economy sells.
Despite the ease of use, this is a business proposition. The operating assumption remains that if we are successful – however success is agreed and defined – the customer will pay. Free images are a means to an end, namely a successful labor inspection program, the terms of which are defined as we go along. It’s heard. For the most part, this would seem obvious and would not require an explanation.
Except for the visionary with the parking problem.
When I tell him that he will have to pay a sum for our services, he reacts with the facial features of someone who ingested something unpleasant, probably on his mother’s orders, bringing up disreputable childhood memories of traditional medicine. Thus infused, he speaks with indignation of the impending betrayal of the goodwill on which our partnership rests.
Built on? We only met an hour ago.